Journalist abducted on Sunday found dead

New York, February 12, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of an Iraqi reporter whose body was discovered today in Baghdad after he disappeared on Sunday.

Police discovered the body of Hisham Mijawet Hamdan, 27, a board member of the Young Journalists Association, today and took him to Al-Tib al-Adli morgue in Baghdad, Haidar Hasoun, founder and head of the association, told CPJ. He said that the journalist, who exhibited signs of torture, was shot in the head and chest.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Hisham Mijawet Hamdan’s family and colleagues,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “This tragic death comes on the heels of the disappearance of two CBS News journalists and underscores the grave daily dangers the press faces in covering the news in Iraq.” 

The search for two missing CBS News journalists continued today. CBS News did not reveal further information, but a spokeswoman told CPJ that efforts were still under way to find the pair, who went missing while working in the southern city of Basra.

Hamdan’s family lost contact with him on Sunday morning when he went to buy stationery supplies from a Baghdad market, Hasoun said.

Hasoun told CPJ that Hamdan was active in a campaign organized by the association less than two months ago in support of the families of journalists killed in Iraq and called on the Iraqi government and civil society organizations to do more to assist them. He was also part of a committee formed to collect financial contributions for the families of slain journalists. Hamdan had appeared on Iraqi satellite channels advocating on behalf of the families, which may have made him a target, Hasoun said. CPJ is investigating the circumstances surrounding his abduction and murder.

Hamdan worked as a political reporter for the bimonthly paper Al-Siyassa wal-Karar, published by the Young Journalists Association. The paper’s print edition recently became defunct, but the association maintains the paper’s Web site, according to Hasoun, who serves as the editor-in-chief.

The Young Journalists Association was launched in January 2004 and holds seminars teaching journalism in tandem with Baghdad University’s media college.